Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 177-194

First online:

Selective mutism in children: A structural family therapy approach to treatment

  • Diane Wolf Tatem
  • , Robert L. DelCampo

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


When children refuse to speak in some social settings, but can understand and speak in other settings, the diagnosis of selective mutism must be considered. A review of the literature describes the disorder, the various types of mutism, and related family dynamics. A family systems approach to treatment using structural family therapy is suggested. The case history presented illustrates one type of mutism as well as the family rules and hierarchy which appeared to be maintaining it. Structural and strategic family systems theory techniques that were used to move the family toward resolution of this problem are discussed.

Key words

selective mutism structural family therapy strategic family therapy behavioral treatment psychodynamic treatment